Friday, January 22, 2010

My Review of Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi's Campaign Report

Thanks to Chris Worden of IPOPA for his review of the campaign finance report of Marion County Prosecutor Carl Brizzi. After seeing his commentary, I knew I needed to take a closer look at Brizzi's report.

First, from reviewing the report - including the timing of the donations v. expenditures - it is clear that Carl Brizzi made his decision to not run for prosecutor fairly early last year. In 2009, he raised $138,573.06. He spent $129,942.27. Heading into a hotly-contested campaign, you do not spend 90% of the money you take in. You instead build up your campaign war chest for the battle. Brizzi pretty clearly was never doing that. Fairly early in 2009, Brizzi decided not to run and kept it a secret, probably so the contributions would continue to come in, money he was spending to live the good life, riding around in limos and dining at fancy restaurants.

How Brizzi spent the campaign money raises some eyebrows. At the outset, I should point out that the IC 3-9-3-4, makes it illegal to use campaign money for personal expenses. Here is a rundown of some of the 2009 non-Indianapolis area expenses that appear on the Brizzi report. The listed reason for the expense is in parenthesis:

1/6 NWA Air (Travel) $115
1/6 Scomas Restaurant, San Francisco (Conf. Expenses) $115
1/6 Image Limo, Chicago (Travel) $540
1/6 Sheraton Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco (Pros. Conf.) $200
1/6 Enterprise Rent-a-Car, San Francisco (Travel-Pros. Conf.) $497.08
1/24 National Bank of Indianapolis (Travel Expenses) $500
2/16 NWA Air (Travel) $1,145
2/16 Sheraton Fisherman's Wharf (Pros. Conf.) $308.64
2/16 Daruma Japanese Restaurant, Naples, FL (Finance/FR Event) $551.38
2/16 Party-Time Limousine (Travel) $342
2/25 Omni Hotel, Chicago (Travel) $545.25
2/25 Hawk N Dove Restaurant, Washington, DC (Travel-DC) $119.12
2/25 NWA Air (Travel) $110
6/8 Comair Airlines (Travel) $162
6/8 Cavanaugh's, Evansville (Networking) $250.36
8/5 French Lick Springs Resort (Travel) $315.46
8/5 Park-N-Shop, Culver, IN (Travel) $121.80
9/9 Hyatt Hotels, Miami (Travel) $203.95
9/9 Luciano's, Ludington, MI (Donor Mtg.) $300.09
9/9 National Car Rental - Miami (Pros. Conf.) $323.97
10/6 French Lick Springs Resort (Travel) $396.04
11/2 NWA Air (Travel) $30

The law does allow an elected official to use campaign expenses for expenses that "related to service" in office. Many of the above could be classified as job-related expenses and evade the prohibition on non-political expenses. They are clearly not, however, the expenditures of a candidate planning to run for re-election the next year.

Some more interesting expenditures, this time looking at annual totals.

Mario Massillamany (Cell Phone) $1,907.90
Brian Cusimano (Executive Assistant) $3,020.56
Verizon Wireless $3,495.69
National Bank of Indianapolis (Numerous Bank Charges) $3,537.06
Brinks Security $663.88
Dell Computer Co. $4,808.61

Here is a partial list of the Indianapolis restaurants paid for out of the campaign fund. (Again these are totals):

Ambrosia Restaurant $1,371.85
Bella Vitas $196.16
Capri Restaurant $909.18
Deanno's Restaurant $222.30
Harry & Izzy's $3,894.87
Oceanairre $356.06
Ruth Chris' Steakhouse $717.11
Sullivan Steakhouse $426.03

A closer examination of these expenses would be needed to see if they were not in fact personal expenses in violation of Indiana law. However, they strongly suggest an elected official who, using the the appearance of someone interested in running for re-election, was raising a considerable amount of money, all the while using the campaign funds raised to live the good life. Someone should be asking questions of Marion County GOP Chairman Tom John as to when he knew that Brizzi was not serious about re-election and that the Republicans needed another candidate for Prosecutor. The fact that the Republicans did not know of Brizzi's decision until the final day to file for slating in January of 2010, has left the Republicans in an almost impossible position to win the Prosecutor's Office.

By the way, Tim Durham contributed $580 to Brizzi's campaign.


M Theory said...

I betcha BFF's Abdul, Tom John, and Brizzi partied hardy on those campaign funds.

Had Enough Indy? said...

It must be nice...

Downtown Indy said...

The man know how to put on the ol' feedbag. And yet he stays so thin. How DOES he do it?

Paul K. Ogden said...

Hey, when you're the Marion County Prosecutor, you need to ride in a limo, right?

Terri said...

Does the money spent at Harry & Izzi's reflect his minority shareholder discount?

Terri said...

Park & Shop is a small grocery chain.
Their stores are about maybe twice as big as a 7-11 inside. The Park & Shop in Culver is near Lake Maxinkuckee. They do have (at least) a beer & wine permit. Rather odd to have an expense there, unless he bought steaks from their butcher shop and several cases, for a private party for someone who vacations there.

Marycatherine Barton said...

Wouldn't it be great if Tom John would honestly address the queries about Brizzi's campaign report that Ogden on Politics has raised? Oh well, one can always dream, and speculate.

Unknown said...

Perhaps Tom John can post copies of ALL his brokerage trading records for the past 6 years. Who wants to bet Cellstar/CLST and possibly Brightpoint were trades he made.

It's pretty obvious that Brizzi was not on business at French Lick and at the resort in Michigan. More likely he was there with one of the bimbos he needed to impress by spending money since he may have felt inadequate in other ways.

And, I hope someone finally does something about this pervasive Indy corruption.